AT&T Tight-Lipped on iPhone 3GS's Lack of MMS and Tethering

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Since the launch of the first generation iPhone, customers have been begging for two very basic, yet vital features: MMS and tethering. At long last, Apple is finally delivering these features to the iPhone 3GS, announced today at the company's World Wide Developer Conference. But don't get too excited, U.S. customers--these features won't be available at launch. According to AT&T, MMS won't come until late summer, and they did not give tethering availability.

Our AT&T spokesperson said that these issues have nothing to do with the 3G network. Rather, AT&T blames lack of MMS on "finalizing internal system upgrades"--whatever that means. The blog Boy Genius Report reports that AT&T has to manually remove all the "Opt Out MMS" codes on each account before MMS can work.

As for tethering, some are speculating that AT&T and Apple are still working out an unlimited tethering and data plan in the $60-70 price range. Still, it is hard not to point fingers at the network's shaky reputation. Given that the network is already strained by the influx of iPhone users as well as notebooks with built-in 3G connectivity (remember the South By Southwest fiasco?), it is hard to imagine how it will support data-hungry tethering.

The iPhone 3GS is compatible with AT&T's network upgrade to a faster HSPA 7.2 technology, however. The transition won't start until later this year and won't be finished until 2011. So unfortunately, I don't think we'll see tethering availability on AT&T-subsidized iPhones until at least early 2010.

Overall, this is a huge disappointment to AT&T customers. There's no way AT&T didn't know that these features were coming and should have been prepared to have them available at launch--whatever outstanding internal issues there may be.

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